Canadian Union Announces $1.3 Billion Deal with GM

At least 2,000 jobs will be returning to Canada’s GM production plants starting in 2021 as the union that represents Canada’s auto workers, Unifor, announced a $1.3 billion deal with GM today. 

The deal will see V8 production as well as transmission production in St Catharines, Ontario, as well as truck production return to Oshawa, Ontario. 

The Oshawa plant was stalled in 2019 and Unifor put significant pressure on GM for what it saw as GM breaking its contract with workers. 

The deal, struck in the wee hours of the morning, as Unifor allowed negotiations to extend past the 11:59 p.m. deadline it had set. Unifor members will still need a 50% + 1 vote from its members to ratify the deal, but with work returning to stalled plants, Unifor’s president Jerry Diaz appeared to be pleased with the results of the negotiations.

The vote is scheduled to take place on Sunday, but GM has said that the construction of a new body shop and flexible assembly module will start immediately in Oshawa. Production of pickups is targeted to start in January 2022 at the plant.

The majority of the money will be going to restarting that plant, which is about an hour outside of Toronto. GM says that updates to its St Catharines plant will cost about $109 million and that it will invest a further half a million to its Woodstock, Ontario, plant. All figures are in Canadian dollars.

Both GM and Unifor say that although none of the investments are specifically targeted toward building EVs—what many, including GM, see as the future of automobiles—the investments will make shifting to EV production easier in the future.

Diaz told media today during a press conference held over Facebook Live, that any plans to switch Oshawa over to electric production would have taken until the mid-’20s to complete, leaving the plant empty for years, eroding the infrastructure.

“Pickups are GM’s largest and most important market segment in Canada and across the continent,” said GM Canada in a statement. “They also help GM fund our transition to the electric, autonomous and highly connected future we see ahead.”

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